I have spent a lot of time on here talking about a variety of red IPAs and how they measure up against my favorite examples of the style. While this has been informative and fun, I wanted to take a fresh look at one of those oft-mentioned favorites and see why I like it so much.
Beer Name: Lucky 13 (A Mondo Large Red Ale)
Brewer: Lagunitas Brewing Company
Style: American Amber/Red Ale (aka Red IPA)
Description: Originally made to celebrate the brewery’s 13th anniversary back in 2006, this beer has since become a spring seasonal hitting distribution between April and June. At $10.99 a six-pack, it comes at a pretty good price for a beer I like so much. It is shown above in my snifter glass, but in all honesty I drank the rest of these right of out of the bottle and that served me just fine.
Appearance: Poured a see through reddish-brown amber body that was topped by a fizzy white head.
Smell: Lots of sweet caramel malt and piney bitterness.
Taste: A more complex version of the smell. Sweet caramel malt upfront transitioned briefly to a citrus and grapefruit middle which in turn got quickly overtaken by a resinous and piney bitterness. At the finish, both the malt and hop influenced aspects combined into a delightful synthesis of flavor. There were occasional hints of alcohol at warmer temperatures, but overall you wouldn’t be able to tell this was nearly 9% by taste alone.
Mouthfeel: On the thicker side and a bit creamy to start, it then took on a more medium body as the moderate carbonation kicked in and came to sticky, sappy finish. Every step of the way, the mouthfeel perfectly complemented the taste of the beer.
Hype Factor: None that I am aware of. While some people may look at this and see a “shelf beer,” I see a gem hiding in plain sight.
Overall: The beer lived up to my fond memories. It delivered exactly what I look for in the style, namely an ideal balance between assertive caramel malts and equally assertive piney hops. Well executed and offering a taste profile that I love, I am happy to say that this beer continues on being one of my favorites.